Baby Boomers Are Retiring…What’s Your Company's Succession Plan?

Chances are, you’re already seeing a steady exodus of retirement-bound workers. After all, 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day—and after decades in the workplace, they’ve certainly earned it. But if you’re not careful, much of your company’s institutional knowledge may walk out the door with them.



It’s a phenomenon known as Baby Boomer Brain Drain: the loss of knowledge, skills, and expertise that occurs when veteran employees exchange their office chairs for easy chairs. It’s why you need a succession plan. Learn how to create one—or supercharge the one you already have.


Understanding Baby Boomers’ Retirement Patterns   

According to the most-recent U.S. census, 73 million Baby Boomers—those born between 1946-1964— live in the United States. The first wave turned 65 in 2011. By 2030, the entire generation will be 65 or older. Most Boomers will either be retired or headed in that direction.

In the U.S., the average retirement age is 64, although it varies, depending on factors like financial readiness, health, personal goals—even location. (In West Virginia, the average retirement age is 61; in the District of Columbia, it’s 67.) Although Americans are working longer than they did 25 years ago, the pandemic triggered an uptick in early retirements.

If you’re fortunate, your employees will give you advance notice as soon they decide to retire, allowing you to get your ducks in a row. But that alone is not enough. You need a plan.


How to Create a Post-Boomer Succession Plan  

Continuity and knowledge retention is essential to the future of your business. Consider this eight-step guide to help prevent brain drain and create an effective succession plan.

Assess Your Current Workforce

If you don’t already know your workforce demographics, now’s the time to take stock. Specifically, which employees—especially those in key positions—are likely to retire in the next few years? Whether they’ve said so or not?

Pay special attention to those in leadership roles, subject matter experts, and other key contributors.

Have Heart-to-Hearts with Your Boomers

Chances are, you’d like those older employees to stick around, at least until they’ve imparted their hard-earned wisdom. If that’s the case, ask the, what it would take to keep them on board.

Fact: many seniors will jump at the chance to transition to part-time employment, flexible hours or hybrid schedules. Phased retirement programs are beneficial for employees and employers, allowing everyone time to transition. Take advantage of them!


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Identify Likely Successors

Look within your organization to identify potential successors for those soon-to-be-open slots. Identify your high-potential employees, along with their skills, performance and readiness. Make sure you have compelling relocation benefits in place in case you need to move personnel.

Provide Development Opportunities

Once potential successors are identified, provide them with development opportunities—such as training and cross-functional experiences—to advance their skills. Work with them to create individualized development plans (which boosts retention, too!).

Establish a Robust Training/Mentorship Program

Connect potential successors with retiring Baby Boomers who will serve as their trainers/mentors. This will allow veteran employees to pass on their knowledge in an organic way to those who will take over their roles.  

Implement a Knowledge Management System

In addition, ask retiring employees to capture their tips, best practices and insights by giving presentations, creating workflows/documents, or even making a series of videos. Most subject experts enjoy sharing their knowledge.

Monitor Your Company’s Progress

Keep an eye on the progress of your retirement-bound employees—are they sharing and documenting their vital knowledge? Similarly, monitor the growth of their potential successors by tracking their development.


Be Flexible

Business is always changing; good succession plans do, too. Be ready to make adjustments as things evolve. Departing employees may change their retirement dates; successors may not live up to their promises. You may need to identify new successors and occasionally bring in external hires—and that’s part of the process, too. As long as that institutional knowledge exists, it will all work out.


For most employers, their workforce truly is their greatest asset. When you take good care of your people throughout the employment lifecycle, they will take good care of your business.

At UrbanBound, we help employers deliver excellent experiences during key points of the employment lifecycle, including recruiting, relocation and internships. What can we do for you?

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